Ellen Reid, book shepherd, is our guest author today. Ellen Reid is an expert in the publishing industry and works with authors to get their books published with their own independent publishing company. We are interviewing Ellen on Tuesday, September 30 and invited you to join us…it’s free! Registration details here.
Start Your Own Publishing Company and Still Have Bookstore Distribution!
- 1 Start Your Own Publishing Company and Still Have Bookstore Distribution!
- 1.1 First, authors are not likely to be the best people to title their books. Why?
- 1.2 Then there’s cover design. Ah, computers, God bless ’em. With a computer, we’re all designers.
- 1.3 Can you learn how to do all these things? Absolutely.
- 1.4 But think of what happens when you have an idea for a house and you go to an architect.
You’ve decided that, for a number of good reasons ranging from keeping control over your material to keeping a far bigger slice of the profit pie, you are going to publish your own book. How hard could it be? That will be up to you to decide. However, I really do question whether an author-any author-is the best person to tackle the various tasks involved in creating their own book alone.
You may be saying, oh sure, Ellen is saying that because if we did it on our own she would be out of business. Let me assure you that for every person who really thinks they can do it there are ten who don’t want to try. So give me the benefit of the doubt and assume I’m the really nice person I am, and I’m trying to save you a little money, a lot of time, and a boatload of frustration.
Because they are too close to the subject. Their job is to know how to tell their story or present their information, not how to best sell it. So the title, subtitle, back cover, flap text, and even the short author’s bio need to be written by someone who is very focused on selling the best benefits to the author’s market. And these benefits may not be what the author considers the key points. Great writers of books are not generally great writers of promo text (which includes every word on the cover of the book, including the title).
Then there’s cover design. Ah, computers, God bless ’em. With a computer, we’re all designers.
The problem is, I don’t care how proficient you are with your computer; if you are not a professional designer, your book cover may please your friends, however, it will not pass critical muster. A good designer will almost invariably be able to point out a dozen places where a change would improve a cover’s effectiveness. This can range from type choice, type size, and type placement to colors, spine design, and use of design elements.
The same goes for interior design. While colors are not an issue inside, typeface, margin width, and a host of other issues need to be considered to produce a page that’s eye-friendly and enjoyable to read.
Then there’s the whole raft of things you need to know to set up your publishing company. Set up a publishing company?! You bet. Because your book is not going to get attention from distributors or bookstores if it looks like a one-time effort. So, after you’ve moved your head from being a writer into being a copywriter, and then moved your thinking into being a designer, you have to become an expert in publishing, handling such things as getting an ISBN number, a Library of Congress number, and countless other details.
Can you learn how to do all these things? Absolutely.
Is it worth your time and effort? That’s the real question. If you think it’s really not worth it to you to try to become an expert in these specialized areas, what do you do?
You could just go out and hire a copywriter, a book designer, and a consultant who would either walk you through the steps of setting yourself up as an independent publisher or actually handle them for you. That really works for some people. In a sense, that’s like deciding to build a house and hiring a carpenter, a plumber, and an electrician, telling them what you want your house to look like, and letting them have at it. You will very possibly get a house that will keep the rain out and that will not electrocute you when you flip the light switch.
But think of what happens when you have an idea for a house and you go to an architect.
You tell him or her your vision, he or she comes up with some designs, and you pick one that’s just what you wanted-only it’s better because they know how to put things together in a way that a non-professional doesn’t. Then the architect not only assembles a team, but guides them every step of the way, making sure the job is not only done, but done right; that the electricity works in conjunction with the plumbing, the windows don’t stick, and everything works together.
That’s what I think you should expect from a good book shepherd.
Believe me, not all book shepherds are created equal. Look for one who is a real book producer; a creative director. They will not only select the team, they’ll make sure the team works together so the design supports the promo text and the whole is far greater than the sum of their parts.